The Bottom Line
The Meco 5029 Stainless Steel Electric Smoker is a small vertical water smoker in a shiny skin. The base of the unit is a three-legged, round unit, about 15 1/2 inches in diameter. The barrel of the smoker fits into this with its two cooking grates and a small water pan. On top goes the dual vented lid. Sounds simple enough, right? These type of smokers have been around for a long time and in general, they are large enough to make some good barbecue and easy enough to use to make it fun.
This one is a little too small and not terribly well built.
- Strong heat output
- Poorly engineered and constructed
- Small cooking grates make smoking large foods almost impossible
- Clumsy vents and doors
- You have to disassemble part of the grill to get the drip pan out
- 351 square inches of total cooking space
- 1500 Watt electric heating element
- Complete stainless steel construction
- Top rack mounted temperature gauge
- Two 15 12-inch chrome steel cooking grates
- Made in the USA by the Meco Corporation
Guide Review - Meco 5029 Stainless Steel Electric Smoker
A vertical water smoker, regardless of the fuel, is a trash can shaped cooker with a heat source in the bottom, a water pan in the middle, and typically two cooking grates above, topped with a lid. Heat and smoke are generated in the bottom, diffused by the water pan and held inside by the lid. Typically these are easy to use smokers, but many have problems holding in smoke and tend to be only big enough to cook for a family barbecue.
The Meco Stainless Steel Electric Smoker is one of these smokers. While you can get charcoal versions of this style of smoker for around $50USD, electrics go for as little as $100USD (this one can be found for as low as $205USD). As an electric smoker this unit should be very easy to use; set the dial on the electric plug, throw in some wood chips, fill the water pan, and place your meat on the racks and let it go.
Unfortunately, the engineering of this unit isn't very good. The parts don't fit together tightly so smoke and heat escape, making it difficult to use.
This unit is also very small. Sure, you are not going to be using this to feed a huge gathering of barbecue enthusiasts, but a typical rack of ribs is longer than the diameter of the cooking grates and even with the optional rib rack that goes on top, you will have to cut up the racks to get them on. If you want to smoke an occasional chicken, the size is okay, but you are still going to have to watch the temperature closely to keep it up to the proper heat and your food isn't going to get a lot of smoke flavor.
Ultimately the greatest limiting factor of this smoker is the quality of the construction and basic quality control. The metal is thin and though stainless steel, prone to corrosion. The assembly instructions are difficult to follow and in places, misleading.